Closure of Shoebury Ambulance Station pushed back as council demands consultation

A plan to close the ambulance station and downgrade it to a response post have been delayed after councillors demanded residents have their say.

Plans to downgrade the ambulance station on Campfield Road were revealed last month by the East of England Ambulance Service, prompting protests by residents and councillors who feared it would put lives at risk.

The ambulance service planned for the downgrade to take place on Monday but Councillor Trevor Harp, who oversees Health and Adult Social Care, confirmed that those plans have now been put on hold.

Mr Harp explained that conversations had taken place between the council and the ambulance service and it was crucial the residents be consulted.

During a People’s Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday, he said: “Our discussions with the ambulance service have led to a commitment from the ambulance service to discuss the planned changes with the affected residents, ward councillors and this scrutiny committee.

“These discussions are due to take place during December and the early part of next year with a specially convened scrutiny committee taking place on January 20, 2020.

“We have assurance from the service that the views of those affected will be listened to and used to inform any proposed changes.”

Southend resident Tricia Cowdrey also told councillors at the meeting that she had presented an online petition to the ambulance service, signed by almost 2,000 people.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Harp further explained that if councillors are not satisfied with the plans when the meeting is held in January, they have the ability to call for a review by central government.

“We have the power ultimately to refer this to the secretary of state if necessary. That is an option that is open to us, but it is not something we take lightly,” he added.

A spokesman for the East England Ambulance Service said: “We would like to reassure residents that we are not removing ambulance responses from the local area, we intend to increase the number of ambulance vehicles in the Southend locality and providing a Shoebury-based response as part of those plans.

“We currently operate two ambulances from Shoeburyness in Essex, one starting its shift from Shoebury, the other from Southend.

“Following changes, we’re making across the region this month, from January 2020 both ambulances will start at our larger hub base at Southend but will move to Shoeburyness so that crews can continue to respond to incidents quickly as part of deployment planning.

“This decision has been made based around improving our response to as many patients across the whole Trust and at a more local level.”

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter